The BBC has announced that it will, for the first time ever, project the results of this week’s general election in the UK onto St Stephen’s Tower at the Houses of Parliament.
Over the course of election night on Thursday, the number of seats gained by the largest Westminster parties – Liberal Democrats, Labour, Conservative – will be beamed onto the London landmark, which houses the world-famous Big Ben clock. The projection will commence as the first results are declared, and keep updating until the final result comes in, which is expected to be around 5.30 a.m., BST, on Friday.
The BBC is delighted with the initiative.
Latest opinion polls still suggest that the 2010 election remains close, meaning that a hung parliament, in which no party will gain an overall majority, remains a possibility.
According to the BBC: “The idea behind projecting the results is to provide a clear and simple source of information and an arresting image. [It] will provide a running tally of the number of seats won by Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, along with those gained by the smaller parties and independents combined.”
The BBC has confirmed that the projections will not carry any BBC branding.
“In the minutes after polls close on Thursday, the details of an exit poll conducted by NOP/Mori will be beamed onto Big Ben, under an agreement between the BBC, ITN and Sky News.
“The results projection, which will be removed after dawn on 7 May, will feature a ‘winning line’, representing the 326 seats that any party will need to win to be sure of an outright victory.”
The BBC confirms that the initiative has been approved by the parliamentary authorities responsible for the management of its buildings.
Craig Oliver, editor of the BBC’s Election Night, said: “This is an historic election. We’re delighted Parliament is joining with the BBC to project the results onto Big Ben for the first time ever.”
Though commonly used to refer to the clock that is situated at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, London, UK, “Big Ben” is actually the name for the great bell that is housed in the clock tower.
A clock tower has stood in Westminster since 1288, and the present one was built after the destruction by fire in 1834 of the old Palace of Westminster.
Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world, and, until 1962 – when the Allen–Bradley Clock Tower in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, was built – was the largest four-faced clock in the world. The clock – which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009 – began ticking on May 31, 1859, and the building is still the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world.